France: Top cities to visit & travel costs

Besides my home country, Romania, France is probably the second on the list of places I visited the most. And that is mostly because my husband-to-be is a citizen of the French Republic, so we often go to visit his friends and his relatives. And, in the time we have left, he shows me around this beautiful European country.

France isn’t cheap, especially when compared to Romania and other countries from Eastern Europe or the Balkans. But it has a lot to offer beyond the major cities. If you go out into the countryside or in smaller towns close to the popular travel destinations, you’ll see that it’s possible to discover France even while on a budget.

Speaking of the popular travel destinations in France, the major ones, in alphabetical order, are Lyon, Marseille, Nice, and Paris (capital). Look below to discover the daily travel expenses which will help you plan your budget for visiting France.



ferris wheel at night in Lyon, France

Lyon

Lyon is considered the second most attractive travel destination in France (after Paris, of course). However, for foodies, Lyon should be the first on the list, as it is France’s gastronomic capital!

Lyon is also more affordable than other French cities. Here, you can find reasonably-priced accommodation, meals, and wines. So if you’re traveling on a budget in France, this is the kind of place you should aim to spend a bit more time.


How much does it cost to visit Lyon?

A budget traveler should aim to spend around € 42 per day while visiting Lyon. This price, however, does not take into account the accommodation costs for that day. Below, you can get more details on the everyday average costs of visiting Lyon:


Accommodation costs

Hotel or hostel for one person€ 19 – 77
Typical double room€ 38 – 155

Lyon food & drinks costs

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant€ 10 – 15
Meal in a mid-range restaurant€ 20 – 27
Local beer (0.5 liters, draught)€ 5 – 7
Bottle of wine€ 15
Water (0.33 liter, bottle) * € 0.75 – 2

* Tap water is safe to drink in Lyon.


Lyon transportation costs

One-way public transportation ticket€ 1.90
Taxi (price per kilometer)€ 1.54 – 2
Gasoline (1 liter)€ 1.30 – 1.60

Lyon visiting costs

Top attractions in Lyon
Vieux Lyon districtFree
Musee du Cinema et de la Miniature€ 9.50
Basilique Notre Dame de FourviereFree
Les Halles de Lyon Paul BocuseFree
Mini World Lyon€ 10
City pass *
24h Lyon City Card€ 25
48h Lyon City Card€ 35

* The Lyon City Card provides you with free access to 23 museums and their temporary exhibitions, unlimited access to public transport (including funicular), a boat trip on the Saône River, and many other activities.




Fortress in Marseille, France

Marseille

Another foodie favorite in France is Marseille. In this port-city, you can discover French gastronomy, especially seafood. You can also explore the nearby beaches and the local attractions.

Oh! And the best thing? Your stay in France, by the Mediterranean sea, in Marseille, will definitely be cheaper than in Nice.


How much does it cost to visit Marseille?

When visiting Marseilles on a budget, try spending around € 45 per day. That is without including any accommodation costs.

The travel costs of visiting Marseille are similar to those of visiting Lyon.

Look below for more information on the everyday average costs of visiting Marseille:


Marseille accommodation costs

Hotel or hostel for one person€ 19 – 85
Typical double room€ 38 – 171

Marseille food & drinks costs

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant€ 10 – 15
Meal in a mid-range restaurant€ 19 – 29
Local beer (0.5 liters, draught)€ 3 – 7
Water (0.33 liter, bottle) *€ 0.50 – 2

* Tap water is safe to drink in Marseille.


Marseille transportation costs

One-way public transportation ticket€ 1.90
Taxi (price per kilometer)€ 0.50 – 2
Gasoline (1 liter)€ 1.15 – 1.55

Marseille visiting costs

Top attractions in Marseille
Basilique Notre Dame de la GardeFree
Parc national des CalanquesFree
Chateau d’If€ 6
Mucem Museum€ 9.50
The Panier neighborhoodFree
City pass *
24h Marseille City Pass€ 26
48h Marseille City Pass€ 33

* The Marseille City Pass provides you with free access to public transportation (including ferry), 13 museums (with discounts to temporary exhibitions), a ride on the tourist train to Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde or to The Panier, a boat ride to If-Castle or the Frioul Islands or a Colorbus sightseeing tour.




Nice, on the Côte d’Azur of France, in Western Europe

Nice

The Côte d’Azur is not a cheap place to visit, I can tell you this much from the start. However, if you really want to visit and/or stay on the French Riviera, Nice is the most affordable destination to do so.

You could keep Nice as your home base while you visit the nearby coastal towns like Cannes and Saint-Tropez. You could even pass the border to Monaco for a day trip.


How much does it cost to visit Nice?

If you’re traveling on a budget, aim to spend € 45 or less daily, without taking into account your accommodation costs. For a breakdown of the daily travel expenses you should expect while visiting Nice, please look below.


Nice accommodation costs

Hotel or hostel for one person€ 20 – 97
Typical double room€ 40 – 153

Nice budget travel advice:
In summer, accommodation prices are a lot higher. Try visiting Nice outside high-season.


Nice food & drinks costs

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant€ 10 – 16
Meal in a mid-range restaurant€ 19 – 30
Local beer (0.5 liters, draught)€ 3 – 7
Water (0.33 liter, bottle) *€ 0.50 – 2.50

* Tap water is safe to drink in Nice.


Nice transportation costs

One-way public transportation ticket€ 1.50
Taxi (price per kilometer)€ 0.50 – 2.12
Gasoline (1 liter)€ 1.15 – 1.50

Nice visiting costs

Top attractions in Nice
Castle Hill of NiceFree
Vieille VilleFree
Promenade des AnglaisFree
Marc Chagall National Museum€ 8
St. Nicholas CathedralFree
City pass *
24h French Riviera Pass€ 26
48h French Riviera Pass€ 38

* The French Riviera Pass covers not only Nice but also other cities on the Côte d’Azur, plus Monaco.




Paris, the city of lights, in France, Western Europe

Paris

Ah, Paris! The capital city of the French Republic, the city of light, the city of love, and one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Paris is definitely not a budget destination. Just to get an idea, it’s more than 100% more expensive than my home town, Bucharest, which is a real budget destination. However, it’s difficult to plan a visit to Europe without thinking about Paris.

Paris budget travel advice:
To avoid spending too much while visiting Paris, I suggest you read my guide to budget travel Europe. You will learn how to find cheap flights and other transportation, but also how to save money on accommodation and food.


How much does it cost to visit Paris?

Are you ready for this? As a budget traveler, you’ll be spending around € 59 per day, without counting the accommodation. Still want to visit Paris? Then look below to learn more about the daily travel costs of visiting Paris.


Paris accommodation costs

Hotel or hostel for one person€ 38 – 313
Typical double room€ 76 – 626

Paris food & drinks costs

Meal in an inexpensive restaurant€ 12 – 20
Meal in a mid-range restaurant€ 20 – 35
Local beer (0.5 liters, draught)€ 5 – 8
Water (0.33 liter, bottle) *€ 1.20 – 4

* Tap water is safe to drink in Paris.


Paris transportation costs

One-way public transportation ticket€ 1.90
Taxi (price per kilometer)€ 1.05 – 1.97
Gasoline (1 liter)€ 1.50 – 1.70

Paris visiting costs

Top attractions in Paris
Musee d’Orsay€ 12.40
Cathedrale Notre-Dame de ParisClosed.
Louvre Museum€ 17
Eiffel Tower€ 25.5
Sainte-Chapelle€ 10
City pass *
48h Paris Pass€ 139
72h Paris Pass€ 174

* The Paris Pass offers you free access to over 60 museums and monuments in the French capital, plus a river cruise on the Seine or one of other 12 interesting attractions. In addition, the Paris Pass covers public transport in the center of Paris, too.





France accommodation deals

Booking.com

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France travel costs sources

  • Accommodation costs via Budgetyourtrip.com
  • Food, drinks, and transportation costs via Numbeo.com
  • Tap water safety researched separately via Google answers for each city in Belgium. Tap water seems to be safe to drink all over Belgium, though.
  • Top attractions selected using TripAdvisor. Each attraction name is a link to the official website page of that attraction, if available.
  • Ticket costs / free access information via the official websites of the attractions. I mentioned the cost of a regular adult ticket, for permanent exhibitions. Discounts and temporary exhibition prices are available on their official websites.
  • City pass information about prices and what each includes is from the official website for each travel pass. A link is available for each pass in order to easily find more information and/or to purchase a pass.

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